Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gil Meche Retires, Walks Away from $12 Million

In a surprise move, Kansas City Royals pitcher Gil Meche decided to retire today.  Meche, who is only 32, was tired of fighting through various shoulder and back ailments.  Meche has been a starter throughout his professional career, but due to weakness in his shoulder, he was slated to pitch out of the bullpen in 2011.

The most stunning part of the story, however, is that Meche is walking away from a guaranteed salary of $12 million.  Meche signed a 5 year, $55 million deal at the end of the 2006 season, and never became the ace Kansas City envisioned.  Rather than have surgery, and miss most, if not all of the season, Meche will hang it up, and forfeit a cool $12 million.

I have done a little research, and I can't think of an instance where a player walked away from such a large contract.  Usually when a player is hurt in the final year of a contract, they "rehab" the injury, and try to be a positive role model for the younger players.  They collect their paychecks, and move on.  Meche decided if he couldn't fulfill the role he wanted, then he would rather walk way from the game, and graduate to the next phase of his life.

I really don't know how to react to Meche's decision.  I really respect the integrity and fortitude that Meche displayed today.  Most professional athletes are portrayed as money-driven egomaniacs, who would spit in the face of the game to make a few million.  Meche had a personal standard that he wanted to follow, and if his body wouldn't let him, he wasn't going to steal money from the team.

On the other hand, walking away from $12 million in a rough economy is pretty crazy.  Sure, Meche has made over $50 million in his career, according to Baseball Reference, but $12 million insures another few generations of wealth for the Meche family.  Perhaps Meche could collect the money, and donate the money to a worthy charity.  The possibilities are endless.

Overall, though, I respect Meche for his honesty.  If I were put in the same situation, I would sit around on my fat ass, and collect a paycheck.  I have a great deal for respect for the integrity he displayed.  Enjoy retirement Gil!

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